US Offers Support to Nigerian Military in Adaptation and Implementation of Artificial Intelligence

The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the US Bureau of Arms Control, Deterrence, and Stability (ADS), Paul Dean, has affirmed that the  United States is willing to support the Nigerian military in the adaptation and implementation of Artificial Intelligence to fight terrorists in the West African country. 

Mr Dean’s brief said this at a meeting with journalists in Abuja on Wednesday during his visit to Nigeria, largely to deepen conversations around diplomatic efforts to increase stability and prevent conflict.

“We’re here looking to strengthen what is already a very strong relationship on the hard security stuff. We’re looking to cooperate in areas of artificial intelligence in the military and building a normative framework for the responsible use of artificial intelligence in the military,” the senior State Department official said.

He noted that the ADS bureau is keen to support the use of artificial intelligence because it will help militaries improve their operations in a very tangible way.

“We want to encourage the positive applications of artificial intelligence in the military. This initiative that we and our partners have launched just last month is centred around achieving just that, maximising the tremendous value of artificial intelligence in military applications, and at the same time ensuring the international community has coalesced around a series of norms of responsible behaviour to make sure that we are reducing the risk of unintended consequences or negative applications.

“We are convinced that when states commit themselves to use this technology in a predictable, transparent, stable, and responsible way, the international community will be in the position of maximising the advantages while reducing the risks of irresponsible approaches,” the US official said.

Nigerians are mourning the tragic incident that happened on Sunday night in Tudun Biri village of Kaduna State where over 100 civilians were “mistakenly killed and many others were injured by a drone “targeting terrorists and bandits.”

The attack was the latest in recent errant bombings of residents in Nigeria. Between February 2014, when a Nigerian military aircraft dropped a bomb in Borno state killing 20 civilians, and September 2022, there were at least 14 documented incidents of such bombings in residential areas, according to reports.

The military has been under severe backlash after the latest attack.

“This kind of mistake or negligence can easily be avoided in this era of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) or Industry 4.0 that we are witnessing through the use of emerging technologies or destructive technologies. With emerging technologies such as the application of artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning, almost 100 per cent accuracy can be attained while using drones for wars and other military operations,” Isa Pantami, the erstwhile minister of communications, wrote on his X account.

The US official, expressed his “deep condolences on the tragedy that happened earlier this week.” He added that AI adaptation will help militaries improve efficiency, eliminate biases, and improve overall decision-making.

Speaking on the areas of collaboration with Africa’s most populous country, Mr Dean said: “I think we have a lot in common, and one thing I hope we can work with our Nigerian partners on, is projecting our shared leadership and our shared commitment to ensuring that nuclear weapons are never used, that chemical weapons are never used, and that countries who are incorporating artificial intelligence to their militaries, which will be all countries, are doing so in a stable, safe, reliable, predictable, and stabilising manner,” he said.

Last month, the US and 47 other partners endorsed a groundbreaking political declaration on the responsible use of artificial intelligence and autonomy in military applications.

“We strongly welcome interest by our Nigerian partners to join us in endorsing this declaration and join us in working around this declaration to strengthen the 10 measures of responsible conduct that it contains to refine them and to work with us to build international capacity to implement them,” Mr Dean noted.

“In my view, we are at a historic opportunity right now to work together with all of our partners to build from the ground up the international framework of responsibility for artificial intelligence in the military.”

Mr Dean, also said his organisation is willing to partner with the federal government to curb the proliferation of arms and ammunition in the country.

“The work of our Bureau is engaged in the full range of deterring conflict, promoting stability, and establishing norms of responsible behaviour in the military domain. And I think this makes us a natural fit for our partners here in Nigeria.

“We’re here to cooperate in areas of mutual interest and concern regarding the prohibition of chemical weapons, the pursuit of nuclear stability, the responsible use of outer space, and the use of risk reduction measures to advance issues of regional security,” he said.

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